It has been four long hard years since Germany's Atrocity issued "Okkult" and the wait for "Okkult II" has been nothing short of excruciating. With no disrespect to Alex Krull's other band Leaves' Eyes (your author enjoys the hell out of them), the success of that iconic symphonic metal band has taken away from the much longer established death metal institution. Seemingly out of the blue, Atrocity returns with a the EP "Masters of Darkness." While this is just a brief taste to carry Atrocity fans over, the strong desire for new material, combined with what is a total death metal assault is enough to satiate...for now.
When "Okkult" was released in 2013, it marked a heralded return to the straight up death metal style of old for Atrocity with throwbacks to the 1990 full length debut "Hallucinations," but more so 1994's "Blut," which remains your author's favorite (recalling having bought it in Frankfurt, Germany on release day in 1994). Alex Krull's deadly, but perfect death grunt annunciation, has placed him in the top ranks of the subgenre's best - along side Mark Jansen (Epica/MaYaN) and John Tardy (Obituary). What makes Krull stand out above them all in versatility along is his lessor known clean vocals. But I digress...
"Masters Of Darkness" continues the "Okkult" trend, a much more soundly produced effort than the band's older death metal masterpieces. With just a touch of symphony to highlight the brutality, judging by the album's 18 minutes of fury, the wait for "Okkult II" rises even more. With the prospects of a new Leaves' Eyes release in January 2018 and another lengthy tour cycle, that wait might be a bit longer. You certainly cannot fault the band for going with the money maker act.
With the typical serrated guitar tone of Toss the Boss - Thorsten Bauer and co-guitarist Pete Striet, "Masters Of Darkness" is a riff assault that will please any fan of well played death metal. One look at the cover artwork (by Stefan Heilemann who also created covers for all the recent Epica albums along with many others like Serenity's "Death & Legacy") and you would think Sodom changed its name, but that slight similarity carries in the music, especially with the song "Menschenschlachthaus," which could accidentally find its way onto "Persecution Mania." Well placed pauses in the chorus, shrouded by extremely well produced old school death, the song is one of the best of the release. However, the title of best of the EP goes to "Devil's Covenant," which already stands along side with Atrocity classics of all time.
Produced perfectly by Krull at Mastersound Studios, "Masters of Darkness" is just a mere taste of what is hopefully coming soon with "Okkult II." With Leaves' Eyes' success in recent years, sadly Atrocity has been downshifted, but for good business reasons. Oddly, the lack of Atrocity only heightens the beauty of new material when it finally comes out and "Masters of Darkness" is the perfect remedy to a tiresome wait. The only complaint is lack of more material.
Label: Massacre Records (2017)
1. Masters of Darkness
3. Gates to Oblivion
4. Devil's Covenant